W Saskim Ogrodzie

Analysis and contextual notes by D. Zisl Slepovitch.
All songs transcribed, translated, scored, arranged, and produced by Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch.


Zalman H. (HVT-3638) was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1929, the youngest of six brothers. He recounts being the sole Jew in his public school class; antisemitic harassment; his oldest brother’s draft in 1937; German invasion; anti-Jewish restrictions; ghettoization; his father’s death; two brothers escaping and working as non-Jews; smuggling food into the ghetto with Peretz, his next oldest brother; arrest by Polish police; escape; his father’s non-Jewish friend once providing food; his mother’s death; escaping with Peretz; moving from place to place; entering the ghetto often to obtain goods to sell outside the ghetto; a ghetto resistance fighter showing him a secret arms cache; fighting with him during the uprising; capture; escaping from a boxcar; finding Peretz; selling cigarettes and newspapers; attending church to reinforce his non-Jewish identity to the other street children; obtaining false papers from the underground, resulting in registering and living with a Polish woman as non-Jews; occasional contact with a person from the Jewish underground; joining the Polish resistance; fighting in the Polish uprising; and their unit surrendering.

Mr. H. recalls transport to Ożarów; transfer to Stalag VIII B (Lamsdorf), then IV B (Mühlberg); receiving Red Cross parcels; forced labor in an airplane factory; antisemitic harassment by non-Jewish Polish prisoners; assistance from their German supervisor; liberation by Soviet troops from an evacuation march; jumping on a train to Warsaw, leaving Peretz behind; reunion with another brother who had survived posing as a non-Jew; Peretz’s return; joining a kibbutz; being smuggled to Bratislava, Prague, Germany, then Marseille; illegal emigration to Palestine in August 1946; interdiction by the British; incarceration on Cyprus; release; reunion with his brothers (they had arrived while he was in Cyprus); draft into the Palmaḥ; fighting in the Israel-Arab War; marriage; and the births of three sons. Mr. H. discusses his nightmares and sharing his experiences with his sons and in schools. He sings Polish resistance songs and shows photographs.

W Saskim Ogrodzie (In the Saxon Garden)

Lyrics and Music: anonymous (traditional); transcription and arrangement: D. Zisl Slepovitch

What was originally a humorous urban Polish folk song tracing its roots to the 1860s, with a plethora of melodic and textual variants, became an openly antisemitic song during World War II. Zalman H. (HVT-3638), a native of Warsaw, remembered hearing this song in the street. Decades later, he shared it in his testimony. The light waltz that serves as the musical genre base of W Saskim ogrodzie contrasts with the chilling lyrics. For this arrangement, we have paired the song’s tune with the Little Waltz (Walczyk), another folk tune originally recorded by Kapela Litewska z Puńska, a Lithuanian band from the Polish town of Puńsk.

W Saskim ogrodzie koło fontanny
Już nie zobaczę żydowskie bandy.
Bo wszytkie Rywci, Sarci, Estery,
Już się wynieśli na dalsze skwery.

Ostatni wagon, co stał jedyny,
Żeby pojechali do Palestyny.
Żydzi nie wiedzą o żadnej wojnie,
I sobie siedzą w getcie spokojnie.

Te ładne panny z swymi główkami
Chodzą do parówki całymi dniami.
Chodzi ich pełno po całe kupy,
Żeby się umyli swe brudne… (dupy) głowy.

Teraz Muranów, Gęsia i Smocza
Jest to dla żydów wielka urocza.
Żydzi nie wiedzą o żadnej wojnie
I sobie siedzą w getcie spokojnie.

W Saskim ogrodzie żydowska niańka
Wiozła we wózku swojego Mońka.
A teraz Moniek wie dobrze o tym,
Że mu wolno jechać tylko za płotem.

In the Saxon Garden, near the fountain,
I won’t see the Jewish gang anymore.
‘Cause all Rebeccas, Sarahs, and Esthers,
Have already moved out to farther spots.

The last train car that stood alone,
Was there so they could go to Palestine.
Jews have no idea about the war,
They just comfortably stay in the ghetto.

Those pretty gals with their fancy hairdos,
They spend hours in the sauna every day.
There walk in packs, lots of them,
To wash their dirty… (asses) heads.

And now Muranów, Gęsia and Smocza
Are the loveliest places for the Jews.
Jews have no idea about the war,
They just comfortably stay in the ghetto.

In the Saxon Garden, a Jewish nanny
Used to be pushing the stroller with her Moishe.
And now Moishe knows well,
That he’s only allowed to walk behind the fence.